Rick Rosen: Time for the Next Chapter

Rick Rosen is Executive Director of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE), and has been one of the driving forces in the massage profession for almost three decades. He is also co-owner of Body Therapy Institute (BTI) in Siler City, North Carolina, along with his wife Carey Smith. The couple announced this week that they are retiring from the massage school business. They are putting BTI up for sale and will be moving to the Big Island of Hawaii within the next 12-18 months.

Rosen has covered a lot of territory during his service to our profession. Inducted this year into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame, he was the founding Chairman of the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy, and was one of the first Presidents of the North Carolina Chapter of AMTA. He was also a co-founder and the first Executive Director of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. Rosen’s commitment as Executive Director of AFMTE runs through the end of this year, and he has offered to extend that if needed. “I may be completing this phase of my career as a massage school director, but I’m open to further exploration of how I may continue to be of service to the massage therapy profession at large” said Rosen, in a letter announcing his transition plans.

Carey Smith was the 2009 recipient of AMTA’s Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year Award, and has pioneered teacher training for massage educators. She and her husband have co-directed the Body Therapy Institute for 17 years. Founded by Rosen in 1983, BTI was the first school of massage therapy in the Carolinas, and has become one of the most respected massage schools in the nation. Located on a beautiful 156-acre property known as South Wind Farm. BTI is one of only two COMTA-approved schools in NC. During the past year, 100% of the school’s graduates passed the NCE and MBLEx on their first try. The school has long been known as a center of excellence, thanks to these two leaders and their dedicated faculty.

While expressing that they will miss the farm, the school and their staff, the couple is looking forward to the next chapter of their lives so they can have more time for creative endeavors. Rosen noted, “We invite prospective students all the time to come to massage school to pursue their goals and dreams. Now it’s time for our next great adventure.”

NC Chapter of AMTA Annual Meeting Rocks!

I spent the weekend in Cary NC at the NC Chapter of AMTA’s annual meeting. What a blast!

We have one of the best chapters in the organization, and I’m telling you, we know how to put on a great gathering. I taught a class in Using Research to Market Your Practice that was well-attended; I’m glad to see more therapists interested in that side of things. Research is going to propel our profession into the future, and it’s vital for us to recognize that. I also attended an awesome aromatherapy class presented by Cynthia Loving. I’m not the expert Cynthia is, but I’ve been using essential oils as my personal medicine chest for many years, and I always like to hear what others have to say about it. Cynthia had the best class I’ve ever attended on the subject, and I will be inviting her to teach at my own facility in 2011. I highly recommend her class and her line of aromatherapy products, Loving Scents. Her husband was running a booth in the exhibit hall and I stocked up before I left.

We had our annual business meeting and election of officers. Congratulations to Cynthia Rankin as being elected as President. It was a little bittersweet to me, because I think Ed Sansbury did a superior job during his tenure and I have a hard time imagining anyone doing any better, but I think Cynthia will do great…Ed will still be the Immediate Past President and be there to guide her along.

Ed is also a candidate for Member-at-Large in the national elections this year, and I urge everyone to vote for him. I’m not just saying that because Ed is from North Carolina. Ed is one of the hardest-working individuals I’ve ever met, and he will be a great asset to the national organization.  Not that he needed to enhance his status with me any, but Saturday night during our recognition ceremony, Ed called his wife up to the stage and acknowledged her contribution to his success. The old adage about “behind every great man….” could not be any truer with Ed and Becky. Hats off to her.

Nancy Porambo, who is a candidate for National VP, was also there teaching a class and I spent some time chatting with her. I am supporting Nancy for that office. Maureen Moon is Nancy’s opponent for that office, and while Maureen has a long history of service with AMTA, she has already served as National President, and personally, I think it’s time for Nancy to have her day in that office. I urge you to cast your vote for her.

We also enjoyed a dance after dinner, complete with a DJ from Belfast, NI who kept the tunes spinning. My husband Champ was a popular dance partner. I’m not that big on dancing myself–lots of times I’m up playing the music myself, so Champ likes to spread himself around and this time was no exception. He stayed after I went upstairs to go to bed and I heard he was dancing with three women at one time, which doesn’t surprise me one bit. Good thing I’m not the jealous type!

AMTA state chapters are great opportunities for continuing education, but the networking factor is the biggest thing to me. Meeting up with old friends, making new ones, sharing ideas and common problems, finding people you can do mutual referrals with…the whole thing is just a great boon to your practice and the profession on the whole, when people can come together and accomplish great things. Kudos to the organizers of our meeting, and I look forward to seeing you all in Hickory NC in April 2011. And BTW, we welcome non-members and people from other chapters to our meetings, so get off your duff and sign up for the next one!

The Massage Therapy Foundation

If you’ve been reading my blogs for any length of time, you know that I often report on the politics of massage as well as my perceived shortcomings of some of our professional organizations. There is one organization that I have never criticized, and that’s because they’re above the fray: the Massage Therapy Foundation.

The Massage Therapy Foundation advances the knowledge and practice of massage therapy by supporting scientific research, education, and community service.The goals of the Massage Therapy Foundation are:

1. Advance research on therapeutic massage and bodywork

2. Foster massage therapy initiatives that serve populations in need

3. Promote research literacy and capacity in the profession

4. Support the evidence-informed practice of therapeutic massage and bodywork based upon available research, client factors, and practitioner experience and judgment

5. Fortify the Foundation’s financial resources and organizational effectiveness

If we are to keep the massage profession moving forward, it is vitally important for us to start at the beginning–with students.  As educators, the responsibility lies with us to teach students research literacy, not with the intent that everyone turns in to a researcher, but so they at least become a therapist who is capable of looking up existing research and interpreting the results, and being able to share that with clients and other health care providers. The MTF website contains a research database, as well as opportunities for students to submit case reports–but they have to be taught how to do that.

To this end, the Foundation offers a very low-cost opportunity to to massage schools to train instructors in research literacy. This class will also soon be available on line.  The AMTA national convention is also annually featuring research track classes; a dozen or more will be offered this year in Minneapolis.

The Foundation’s President, Ruth Werner, particularly wants to reach out to schools and instructors and encourage them to join the MTF mailing list.

Finally, the Massage Therapy Foundation is a non-profit that depends on donations to survive. AMTA, ABMP, the NCBTMB and many industry partners support the Foundation, and the rest comes from individual therapists like me and you. Please give whatever you can, even if it’s only a dollar. Every little bit helps.

Laura Allen

Report from AFMTE Meeting

I traveled to Park City, Utah last week to attend the first annual meeting of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, an organization I am happy to say I am a founding member of. In spite of the fact that I suffered through a heinous case of altitude sickness, I’m very glad I was able to attend, and I must report that the meeting was a rousing success.

Rick Rosen, the Executive Director, and his lovely wife Carey Smith, along with the leadership team, pulled off a wonderful gathering of some of the brightest and best in the bodywork business. The setting at the Grand Summit in the Canyons Resort was beautiful, the food and lodging was great, the education was a bonus, but I’d have to say the greatest thing was the fellowship and sharing of ideas that occurred over the course of the conference.

During the course of the long weekend, the membership came together for the purpose of brainstorming a vision for the future of the Alliance. This organization was founded last year for the purpose of being an advocate for the education sector of our profession. Membership is open to schools, teachers, and continuing education providers; associate membership is open to industry supporters. During the first day, we heard short speeches from the leadership of ABMP, the NCBTMB, COMTA, the FSMTB, and Coulter Non-Profit Management (hired to oversee the management) who all praised the formation and purpose of the Alliance. A number of sponsors and vendors were on hand as well, including representatives from Massage Today, Oakworks, Resource ETC, Bon Vital, and several others.

We enjoyed a gondola ride up the mountain, which incidentally still had snow lingering on the ground, to a great buffet dinner. I was thrilled to see lots of old friends and make some new ones. I was delighted to meet Mark Beck, who authored the massage theory and practice book I learned from as a massage student. He was elected to the Board of Directors, as was Ralph Stephens and Cherie Sohnen-Moe. Other members of the leadership team, including Su Bibik, Pete Whitridge, Iris Burman and Stan Dawson are remaining on in Board positions, which in fact caused the only hairy moment of the entire meeting. A couple of attendees questioned the fact that the leadership team put forth a slate of candidates that included themselves; however, the general consensus was that since this was a new start-up organization that the action was not without precedent and that such action was taken for continuity’s sake. A nominating committee was also elected to recruit suitable candidates for the next term. The seven board members will serve staggered terms of one and two years, for this first cycle, so there won’t be an experience deficit on the Board.

I attended a great class on ethics in education by Cherie Sohnen-Moe. Other offerings included a class on the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge and several classes geared to school owners on the topics of recruitment and financial aid.

The last day of the conference included a raffle drawing with wonderful prizes, and a beautiful closing ceremony. All in all, it was a very harmonious gathering of like-minded souls who want to see massage therapy education thrive and reach its full potential. The AFMTE intends to facilitate that, and as with any people-driven organization, the success or failure of an organization depends on those people. I don’t think there’s any question that the Alliance is set to become the driving force behind the advocacy of excellence in education. Congratulations to Rick Rosen and the rest who made this first gathering a great one.

AMTA-MA Chapter Sets the Bar High

This past weekend I was fortunate to be invited to teach at the 50th anniversary celebration of the MA Chapter of AMTA. Let me tell you, these people know how to throw a party!

To begin with, in honor of hitting the 50-year mark, the members got to attend this magnanimous occasion for the paltry sum of 50 bucks–and that included their education and meals. The food and service at the Crowne Plaza in Worcester was excellent. The folks in this chapter are excellent.

The Chapter made a $10,000 donation to the Massage Therapy Foundation. MTF President Ruth Werner and IPP Diana Thompson were both in attendance and said it was the biggest chapter donation in the history of the organization. They also raised another $800 by raffling off a quilt made by Ruth Werner, that was matched by the NCBTMB for a total of $1600, that was also donated to the MTF.

The vendors were great, lots of giveaways, and Massage Today and Massage Warehouse went a little crazy giving away all kinds of goodies, including a massage table and several chairs.

The NCBTMB was one of the sponsors of the event and I spent time with their CEO, Paul Lindamood and the Director of Exam Development, Elizabeth Langston chatting about the forthcoming Advanced Certification Exam. Even the BOD Chair, Neal Delaporta, was very gracious to me, which is nice since I’ve been quite nasty to him in my blog over the years.

I shared a shuttle to the airport with Diana Thompson. She’s not old enough for me to refer to her as one of the grandmothers of massage, but I found out massage has been her one and only career since the age of 19. After rising to the position of leading the Massage Therapy Foundation, and is now the IPP, she still does 10-15 massages every week. I think that’s amazing.

Mary White, Richard Wedegartner, Allissa Haines, Lisa Curran Parenteau, Sister Pat and all the rest of the chapter members bent over backwards to make me feel welcome. The people who attended my classes in Using Research to Market Your Practice were great.

The theme of this gathering was promoting research in massage therapy, and I don’t think it could have been any better. I also enjoyed seeing so many friends and FB friends–met quite a few people who have been on my FB page and that’s always fun. I also had dinner with Chris Alvarado and Angie Palmier, who were there teaching “Research Rocks.”

I encourage every AMTA chapter in the world to shamelessly steal this theme for an upcoming meeting. We need to educate therapists about research so they can go out and educate the rest of the world.

Thanks so much to the fine massage therapists of MA!

Laura Allen

Professional Associations: Do You Belong?

Do you belong to a professional association? I do, and I find it is well worth the money. Liability insurance  is of course a benefit, but there is so much more.

This weekend I’m hanging out with the AMTA folks from North Carolina. We always have a blast at our conferences. Good classes, a social on Friday night, meals together, vendors….one of the usual vendors sells beautiful handmade jewelry, so twice a year at our meetings I treat myself to a pair of her earrings. I haven’t missed a national convention in years. There is something totally awesome about being with a couple of thousand other people who do what you do.

I also belong to ABMP. Their client newsletter alone is worth the money. They also have cheap online classes, and numerous marketing aids that are yours at no cost if you’re a member.

I blog a lot about the politics of massage, and I want to point out that these two professional associations have government relations representatives, and they pay lobbyists to look out for the interests of massage therapists. I keep saying that many therapists aren’t involved, and I also hope to change that. By belonging to one or both of these organizations, your annual dues money is going to help finance the cost of their assistance in legislation that stands to affect massage therapists.

These organizations also make large annual contributions to the Massage Therapy Foundation, so your membership dollars go to support that, too.

I know a lot of therapists who say they have let their membership go because of the recession, and that it is just one more thing they have to pay for. Just a reminder: if you are operating without any liability insurance, you are taking a huge risk.

According to my research, about 6% of massage therapists have been sued. I am sure it’s actually more, because my figures are just a compilation of those from AMTA and ABMP, and don’t include any therapists who aren’t members. That may not sound like many, but you don’t want to be one of them. If you have that insurance, you’re good to go. If you don’t, and someone sues you, they could get a lien against your property, wipe out your children’s college fund, get your retirement money…you get the picture, and it ain’t pretty! Don’t let that happen to you.

I get a lot out of my memberships. Free listings on their websites, trade magazines, networking opportunities, education opportunities, volunteer opportunities, teaching opportunities…sounds like they’re the place to go for opportunities, doesn’t it? Membership in AMTA and ABMP, along with your insurance and all the rest, amounts to less than a dollar a day. It’s one of the best values around.

If you are a school owner, massage school instructor or administrator, or provider of continuing education, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education is there for you. This young organization is holding their first annual membership meeting this June in Park City, UT, and I plan to be there. The AFMTE will act as an advocate for education, and some of the great minds of massage are lined up to speak, including Tom Myers, Carey Smith, and Cherie Sohnen-Moe. Membership is an investment in the future of education. Join us!

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen

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